Wyoming Lawmakers Already Approved Constitutional Carry. Now They’re Going After ‘Gun-Free’ Zones. – Bearing Arms

Wyoming Lawmakers Already Approved Constitutional Carry. Now They’re Going After ‘Gun-Free’ Zones. – Bearing Arms

Monday will be a critical day for one of the most important pieces of 2A legislation introduced anywhere in the country this year. HB 125 would scrap the vast majority of Wyoming’s “gun-free zones”, and the bill sailed through the House last week on a 54-7 vote. Now it’s up to the Senate Judiciary Committee to keep the bill alive. Any bill that’s crossed over from its chamber of origin has to pass out of committee in the second chamber by the end of business on Monday or it’s done for the year, and HB 125 is on the Judiciary Committee’s calendar for an 11 a.m. hearing on Monday morning. 

HB 125 would allow for concealed carry in most government-owned and controlled buildings in the state; including K-12 schools, which drew the objections of a handful of lawmakers. 

There were 14 amendments as HB 125 navigated its way to House passage, several of them from Rep. Sandy Newsome (R-Cody), who fought to preserve school districts’ authority to regulate concealed firearms in the classrooms and hallways of their public schools. Her home district, Park County School District 6, started its own firearms policy that allows for concealed carry in 2018. 

“My concern is we have an armed, trained staff and now we’re going to allow citizens off the street to come into our schools concealed-carry,” Newsome said on the House floor. “My fear is that one of our teachers will shoot a citizen who comes into our school legally.” 

Uncertainty over who is armed, she said, could have the effect of killing the district’s concealed carry program. 

“My fear is that we will lose the people who are protecting our school children every day,” Newsome said, “because they don’t want that uncertainty.”

At first glance, Newsome’s objections seem fairly rational. After all, if more people are carrying legally in schools, would armed school staff want to take the risk of shooting an innocent person who posed no threat to students or employees? Might they decide it would just be safer, at least from a legal perspective, for them to forgo carrying a concealed firearm of their own? 

Maybe, but I’d argue that we’re talking about concealed carry here. Why would any armed school staff member even be aware that a parent or visitor was lawfully carrying a concealed firearm? And the presence of a gun alone isn’t enough to justify a shooting, even under current Wyoming law. The person needs to be actively posing a threat to life and limb in order to use deadly force. If a school staffer sees a gun in someone’s hand, that would be cause for alarm and action, but an accidental flash of a pistol grip as someone’s jacket swings open wouldn’t be reason enough to start blasting away in the name of school safety. 

Besides, “citizens of the street” shouldn’t be wandering into schools, regardless of whether or not they’re “gun-free zones”. My youngest have now graduated from high school, but when I had to go check them out for a doctor’s appointment or something along those lines I had to wait to be buzzed in through the visitor’s entrance. There should be physical security measures in place, even in rural schools, to prevent unauthorized entry by those who have no business being on campus, and if I were an armed school staff member I’d be much more concerned about whether or not those barriers had been erected than the possibility of shooting a lawful gun owner who wasn’t a danger. 

HB 125 would be a big step forward in a state that already has Constitutional Carry in place, and if it gets out of the Judiciary Committee I’d say it stands a very good chance of clearing the full Senate. While states like California, New York, and even Colorado are looking to expand the number of “sensitive places” off limits to lawful carry, Wyoming’s approach is a breath of freedom-restoring fresh air, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that committee members feel the same way.  

Originally Posted on: https://bearingarms.com/camedwards/2024/03/01/wyoming-constitutional-carry-gun-free-zones-n1224046
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